Mom Goes Camping

Best Wagon for Camping and Hiking: As Tested by an Outdoorsy Mom

best folding wagon for camping

My family mostly goes wild camping in the backcountry, which usually means we need to walk at least a mile to get to camp.  This wasn’t a problem when my kid was a baby.  I’d just strap her to my front and load gear into a backpack.  But, now that she is 4 (and nearly 40lbs!), I can’t carry her plus all of our gear.  The solution?  We got a collapsible wagon for camping.

In addition to walk-in camping, collapsible wagons – aka folding utility wagons — can also work for hiking with little kids, as a fishing cart, music festivals, or as a stroller wagon for two kids.  They are far from a perfect solution, and some wagons are better suited for certain types of activities.

Below I’ve picked the best folding wagon carts for camping, plus lots of info on how to choose the right wagon for your style of camping.

On our way to the campsite with a 4 year old and lots of gear loaded into the folding wagon! 

 

Quick Picks:

 

Comparison Table

 Weight LimitWagon Weight Interior Size LWHFolded SizeModesWheel SizeBrakesRemovable wheels  
Radio Flyer Odyssey120lbs40lbs33x19x1127x24x15"push/pull12" back, 7.75" frontYesYes
Veer Cruiser350lbs33lbs33x18x12"37x20x14"push/pull12" back, 7.5" front YesYes
Jeep Deluxe Wrangler 110lbs47lbs36x18W x1238x29x25"push/pull12” back, 8” frontYesYes
Mac Sports Wagon150lbs22.6lbs30x17x1030x21x8"pull8"NoNo
Beau Jardin Wagon176lbs30lbs31x17.7x10.6"32x22x8.5"push/pull7"diamter, 4" wideYesNo
Gorilla Cart Folding150lbs20lbs36x21x15"25x9.5x9.5"pull7"YesNo
Lebleball150lbs33lbs31.5x17.7x10.6 25x12x9.1pull7"yesNo
Navatiee S1220lbs24lbs35x19x13"26x9x8pull7"NoYes

 

What Terrain Can You Realistically Use a Camping Wagon On?

Before you get too excited about camping wagons though, be warned that they have limitations.  Cheap wagons with small plastic wheels simply aren’t able to handle rocky paths, tree roots or other bumpy terrain.  Unless the wagon has extra-wide wheels, it won’t go on sand and will get stuck in mud.

Using a folding wagon on rough terrrain can cause axels or wheel posts to bend. I’ve heard stories of wheel posts breaking, even when the wagon wasn’t at its weight limit.  If this happens, you will not only have to haul your gear out, but will have to lug the broken wagon too.

My cheap wagon was able to handle this rocky road, but it was bumpy!

Steel carts like this one work better for heavy loads on rough terrain. They are a pain to pack though and heavy.

 

Can You Use a Folding Wagon for Hiking?

A lot of National and State Parks don’t allow wagons on trails.  If it is allowed, then you’ll need a wagon with these features so it can handle the rough terrain:

  • Large back wheels
  • All-terrain tires
  • Suspension system
  • Very sturdy construction

Unfortunately, these wagons don’t come cheap.  The Veer Cruiser wagon, which is one of the only folding wagons with a suspension system, costs around $700.  There are some folding wagons which cost over $1,500!

If you don’t feel like spending a fortune on a wagon which can go off-road, you might want to try a deer/game cart instead.  Steel garden carts or dollies with pneumatic tires can also work.  Or, consider an off-road bike trailer/stroller (like the Burley Honey Bee) for hauling kids or gear.  They aren’t cheap but at least you can use them biking too.

Also read: How to Carry Toddlers and Little Kids Hiking

 

Can You Use a Folding Wagon as an Everyday Stroller?

Yes.  Wagons are great for trips to the local park, picnics or even grocery shopping.  Most kids love riding in wagons, especially when they get too “grown up” for traditional strollers but still can’t walk far distances.  Folding wagons are also good if you have two little kids and don’t want to deal with a double stroller.  But, if you want to use a wagon instead of a stroller, make sure you get a wagon which can also be pushed. It’s a lot easier to maneuver a wagon through tight supermarket aisels and narrow sidewalks when you are pushing.  Wagons which have smaller front wheels and larger back wheels are also easier to maneuver.

The Veer Cruiser being used with two kids in an airport. Most airlines let you check it at the gate like a stroller.

 

Tips for Using a Wagon Off-Road

  • Balance the weight: Try to distribute your gear in the wagon so the weight is spready out evenly. Otherwise the wagon will be hard to steer and may wobble.
  • Clean before storing: Always clean dirt, mud and sand off of the wagon and let it dry before putting away. Otherwise the parts can start to rust or get gunked up.
  • Check hardware before using: Make sure there are no loose rivets, screws or other parts before taking your wagon out.
  • Wagons require maintenace! You will need to regularly lubricate the wheels, axels and bearings of your wagon.  Otherwise they will start to squeak and wobble.
  • Bring a multi-tool for quick repairs: After going on a particularly rough trail, the jostling caused a bolt on my wagon to come loose. Luckily I noticed before losing the bolt completely and had a mini multi-tool with me to tighten it.
  • Don’t abuse the wagon: Overloading a wagon and taking it on tough terrain can damage the wheel casters or cause parts to break.  If the trail gets unexpectedly tough, make your kids get out and walk for a while or carry some of the gear until the trail gets better.
  • Fixing wobbly wheels: It’s common for the wheels on folding wagons to get wobbly.  If this happens, first try cleaning and lubricating them.  Check that all hardware is tightened. If that doesn’t solve the wobbling, then you may need to replace the wheels — which unfortunately isn’t possible on most cheap wagons.

 

Best Camping Wagons Reviewed

1. Radio Flyer Wagon Odyssey

Choose because: Amazing wagon for kids and gear, so long as you have space for it in your car

Radio Flyer camping folding wagon

Specs:

  • Weight limit: 120lbs
  • Wagon weight: 40lbs
  • Interior size (LxWxH): 33x19x11”
  • Folded size: 27x24x15”
  • Wheels: 12” diameter back, 7.75” front with rubber tires; 1.75” wide
  • Brakes: Yes
  • Push/pull? Push and pull
  • Buy Here 

 

Review:

I absolutely love the Odyssey folding wagon by Radio Flyer.  There are a bunch of cool features which you won’t find on other wagons, yet still doesn’t cost a fortune.  The main cool thing is that it a side wall which folds down.  This means your kids can use the wagon as a bench seat.  It also makes it easier to put heavy gear in the wagon (don’t have to lift as high).  With some smart packing methods, you could even use this feature to make a “drawer” system and access gear from the side.

Other awesome features include the interior storage pockets, removable exterior basket, removable canopy and 5-point safety harness for kids. These are included in the price and not add-ons!

You can push or pull the wagon.  Because the back wheels are 12”, it handles tough terrain fairly well.  It will get stuck in sand (especially if loaded), but you can do some off-roading with this wagon.  The wheels are even removable and there is a brake.

The downside? It is HEAVY and HUGE when folded.  At least it rolls when folded. Taking the wheels off does save space, but it is still really boxy.  So don’t get this if you have limited storage space or a small car trunk.

Pros:

  • Works well on bumpy terrain
  • Side folds down
  • Lots of storage pockets
  • Push and pull
  • Rolls when folded

Cons:

  • Very heavy
  • Boxy when folded

 


 

2. Veer Cruiser Wagon

Choose because: It can handle very tough terrain

Veer Cruiser camping wagon

Specs:

  • Weight limit: 350lbs or two kids 55lbs each
  • Wagon weight: 33lbs
  • Interior size (LxWxH): 33x18x12″
  • Folded size: 37x20x14″ (wheels on); 37x20x8” (wheels off)
  • Wheels: 12” back wheels; 7.5” front wheels; 2” wide with PU tires
  • Brakes: Yes
  • Push/pull? Push and pull
  • Buy At: REI, Amazon

 

Review:

The Veer Cruiser wagon is definitely not cheap – but it is one of the only collapsible wagons which can handle tough terrain and even hiking.  It has 12” back wheels and smaller 7.5” front wheels, which makes it easier to maneuver on tough terrain and prevents it from getting stuck in mud.  There is a suspension system built into the front wheels, so it provides a smooth ride.

The wagon is mostly designed for kids. You can also put two kids (up to 55lbs each) in the wagon.  There is a “footwell” that extends below the wagon, creating an actual seat for the kids. There are safety harnesses on each seat.   It’s also possible to mount a child car seat to the wagon using an adapter.   There’s no reason you can’t use this wagon for hauling gear too though.  The gear weight limit is 350lbs!

There are also a lot of nice extra design features on the wagon: the fenders prevent dirty water from splashing on the wagon, the wheels are removable to make it more compact, it’s easy to clean….

You can push or pull the Veer Cruiser using the same handle. Pulling is definitely easier though, especially on tough terrain.  If you try to push it over sand or mud, it will be difficult to maneuver and might get stuck.

Footwell creates seats inside the Veer Cruiser wagon

 

With the wheels off, the Veer folds flat(ish)

 

Pros:

  • Handles very tough terrain
  • Suspension system
  • Removable wheels
  • Footwell creates seats for two kids
  • Rear-wheel fenders to prevent splashing
  • Car seat compatible
  • JPMA certified and meets ASTM safety standards
  • Folds compact with wheels removed

Cons:

  • Expensive!
  • Accessories are also expensive

 


 

3. Jeep Deluxe Wrangler Stroller Wagon

Choose because: If has lots of extras and is great for pushing two kids

jeep wrangler folding wagon stroller

Specs:

  • Weight limit: 110lbs
  • Wagon weight: 47lbs
  • Interior size (LxWxH): 36x18x12”
  • Folded size: 38x29x25”
  • Wheels: 12” back, 8” front with rubber tires
  • Brakes: Yes
  • Push/pull? Push and pull
  • Buy Here

 

Review:

The Jeep Deluxe Wrangler wagon is designed for pushing children.  It has two seats with 5-point safety harnesses.  It’s also car seat compatible (with adapter).  You could use it to carry gear too though, but the weight limit is only 110lbs, which is less than most other folding wagons.

What’s really cool about the Jeep wagon stroller is that it has tons extra features: lots of storage, a wheel brake and removable canopy.  It even comes with a cooler bag and it’s all included in the price.  Because the frame is horizontal on the sides, it’s easy to strap gear there too.

It’s definitely a heavy-duty wagon and the large wheels can handle tough terrain.  The major downside is that it is HEAVY!  It is also massive when folded.  You can remove the wheels, but it will still be huge and might not fit in your car trunk.

Another downside is that it doesn’t have a standard pull handle.  You can still pull the wagon, but it’s not as comfortable as if you had a long handle.  The Jeep wagon definitely isn’t cheap either, but the price is on par with double strollers of this caliber.

Pros:

  • Tons of exterior storage
  • Canopy
  • Handles tough terrain well
  • Fits two kids
  • Car seat compatible
  • Easy to push
  • Lots of interior space

Cons:

  • Does not have a standard pull handle
  • Huge when folded
  • Very heavy
  • Low weight limit

 


 

4. Mac Sport Utility Wagon

Choose because: It’s an affordable wagon that’s good enough for most needs

Mac Sports folding camping wagon

Specs:

  • Weight limit: 150lbs
  • Wagon weight:23lbs
  • Interior size (LxWxH): 30x17x10″
  • Folded size: 30x21x8”
  • Wheels: 8″ diameter, 2″ wide with rubber tires
  • Brakes: No
  • Push/pull? Pull only
  • Buy Here 

 

Review:

The Mac Sport is by far the most popular camping wagon – not because it’s the best though.  Rather, it’s “good enough” for most people’s needs while still being really affordable.  The wheels are 8” in diameter, 2” wide and have rubberized tires. The wheels will handle somewhat bumpy terrain, but they definitely won’t handle sand or mud.

If you need a wagon for sand, Mac Sports also makes a beach wagon.  The only real difference between it and this wagon is the size of the wheels (the sand wagon has 10” wheels which are 4” wide).  The bigger wheels means that the beach wagon is heavier and larger when folded though.

The Mac collapsible wagon frame is strong but abide by the weight limit.  If you exceed the weight limit, the wheel posts will bend and the fabric will tear!

There are some design flaws with the Mac Sports wagon. Because of the way that it folds, you can’t roll it with the handle while folded.  It also won’t stand up on its own when folded.  Compared to the other camping wagons reviewed here, the Mac wagon also doesn’t have much interior space yet still is pretty bulky when folded.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Sturdy frame
  • Handles somewhat rough terrain
  • Comes with a removable tray

Cons:

  • Light-duty only
  • Not much interior space

 


 

5. Beau Jardin Beach Wagon

Choose because: It’s an affordable beach wagon

Specs:

  • Weight limit: 176lbs
  • Wagon weight: 30lbs
  • Interior size (LxWxH): 31x17x10.6”
  • Folded size: 32x22x8.5″
  • Wheels: 7” diameter, 4” wide plastic
  • Brakes: Yes
  • Push/pull? Pull only
  • Buy Here 

Review:

While it isn’t as popular, I like this Beau Jardin wagon better than the Mac Sports beach wagon. It has some nice design features which make it easier to use.  For starters, the front wheels are spaced further apart, so the wagon doesn’t wobble or tip easily.   Because of the way the wheels line up when folded, you can even pull it with the handle when folded. It also has breaks.

It’s still a cheap wagon so you need to be realistic about what it will do.  Do not overload it or the wheel posts will break.  The wheels are only 7” so get stuck in loose sand.  But it’s the best you can expect for such an affordable collapsible wagon.

Pros:

  • Rolls when folded
  • Removable fabric
  • Lockable wheels
  • Works on sand

Cons:

  • No cup holders or extras
  • Doesn’t withstand abuse
  • Plastic wheels

 


 

6. Gorilla Folding Wagon

Choose because: It’s very light and compact when folded, yet still has tons of storage space

Gorilla cart folding wagon

Specs:

  • Weight limit: 150lbs
  • Wagon weight: 20lbs
  • Interior size (LxWxH): 36x21x15″
  • Folded size: 25×9.55×9.5″
  • Wheels: 7″ diameter, 1.5″ wide rubber tires
  • Brakes: Yes
  • Push/pull? Pull only
  • Buy Here 

Review:

This folding wagon by Gorilla Carts is one of the largest you will find.  The basket area is huge!  Yet, it still folds down really small.  It is also incredibly lightweight.  The description on Amazon seems to be incorrect.  It’s closer to 20lbs than 13.5lbs, but that is still really lightweight for a folding wagon.  There are also lots of extras like storage pockets and wheel brakes.

Not surprisingly considering how cheap and light the wagon is, it will not handle abuse.   If you overload it, the cart will bend or break.  You could give kids a ride in this, but you’d have to balance out the weight to get a smooth ride.   I would only recommend it for hauling light-but-bulky gear like camping chairs.

Pros:

  • Very lightweight and compact
  • Lots of storage space
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Does not withstand abuse at all
  • Not great for kids

 


 

7. Lebleball Camping Wagon

Choose because: The back folds down so you can haul long gear

lebleball folding camping wagon

Specs:

  • Weight limit: 150lbs
  • Wagon weight: 33lbs
  • Interior size (LxWxH): 31.5×17.7×10.6”
  • Folded size: 25x12x9.1”
  • Wheels: 7” diameter, 1.5” wide with rubber tires
  • Brakes: Yes
  • Push/pull? Pull only
  • Buy Here

Review:

This is one of the cheapest collapsible wagons you will find.  As expected at this price, the wagon is a bit flimsy.  Compared to the Mac Sports wagon, it isn’t as sturdy.  The wheels are also smaller and narrower. It works great on asphalt and grass, but you won’t be able to take it on sand or tough terrain.  The handle is also shorter than on most other wagons, which means it could end up hitting the back of your legs.

The main selling point is that the back side folds down, giving you an extra 22 inches of length.  This is great if you have long gear like timber or sunshades to carry.  Another selling point is that it folds down very compact.  It ends up being more of a boxy shape than a flat shape though, so the folded size might not work for everyone.

Pros:

  • Cheap
  • Back side folds down
  • Can roll even when closed
  • Compact when folded
  • Stands when folded

Cons:

  • Handle is short
  • Not for sand or rough terrain

 


 

8. Navatiee S1 Folding Wagon

Choose because: It folds down tiny

Specs:

  • Weight limit: 220lbs*
  • Wagon weight: 24lbs
  • Interior size (LxWxH): 35x19x13”
  • Folded size: 26x9x8”
  • Wheels: 7” diameter, 1.5 wide with rubber tires
  • Brakes: No
  • Push/pull? Pull only
  • Buy Here

Review:

Here’s another cheap folding wagon for camping.  It is really lightweight and folds down smaller than any of the other collapsible camping wagons reviewed here.  It is also the only cheap wagon with detachable wheels and the fabric is removable too.

For cheap, small wagons though, I personally still prefer the Gorilla Cart wagon over it.  The handle on the Navatiee attaches in a weird way: to both front wheels.  This actually makes it slightly harder to maneuver over tough terrain.  Despite what the manufacturer says, the Navatiee wagon won’t handle 220lbs without breaking.

If folded size is your main concern though, then this is the wagon to get.  Just don’t abuse it or take it on really tough terrain!

Pros:

  • Removable wheels and fabric
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Light-duty only
  • Hard to maneuver

 

Do you use a folding wagon for camping?
Let us know how it worked for you in the comments section below.

Sources
https://www.reddit.com/r/camping/comments/vlhfah/best_wagon/,
https://www.reddit.com/r/camping/comments/4jmgc5/looking_for_gear_hauling_cart/
Image credit: “Springmaid Pier” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by Randy’s World (Kinda)
San Francisco International Airport” (CC BY 2.0) by Sharon Hahn Darlin

About the author /


Diane Vukovic grew up camping and backpacking in upstate New York. Now, she takes her own daughters on wilderness adventures so they can connect with nature and learn resiliency. With dozens of trips under her belt, Diane is an expert in minimalist camping, going lightweight, planning, and keeping her kids entertained without screens.

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